With Breanne Deppisch and Joanie Greve
THE BIG IDEA:
PHILADELPHIA — Jay Inslee, the new chairman of the Democratic Governors' Association, believes President Trump will be so toxic by next November that down-ballot Democrats will not even need to mention him by name to ride a wave of backlash.
In fact, the governor of Washington state — who previously spent eight terms in the U.S. House — is encouraging candidates across the country to stay focused as much as possible on core economic issues.
“We need to talk about jobs,” Inslee said in an interview here. “People will figure out for themselves that they have to stand up to Donald Trump. They're doing that without us saying a word. That's not our communications strategy. We want to communicate about jobs and the economy. The other thing just happens organically.”
One of Inslee’s three sons got married in Philadelphia the Saturday before last. The governor had some down time while he was in town, so I took the train up to have lunch with him. As he ate a pulled pork sandwich and sipped a diet Pepsi at The Logan hotel, Inslee outlined his theory of the case for the midterms.
He dubs it the “double-P” strategy: The personality of the president will create the climate for a change election, and then Democrats will focus on prosecuting the case that GOP policies are hurting middle-class families.
Not talking about Trump by name can be challenging. Almost inevitably, the lion’s share of our conversation wound up being about the president. Inslee said that’s exactly the point: “No Democrat running for governor anywhere has to say, ‘Did you notice that Donald Trump has caused nothing but division, hatred and chaos?’ You don't have to say that because he’s showing it himself. Our people are going to lead with an economic message … and we’re not going to be distracted by his divisiveness. … It’s not ideological. It’s just a rejection of chaos.”
There are 36 gubernatorial elections next year, including 26 in states currently held by Republicans. Because the 2014 midterms were so disastrous for Democrats, they control just 16 of the 50 governorships. Trump’s historically low approval rating of 35 percent, according to Gallup’s national tracking poll, gives them additional pickup opportunities.
“I see no reason that trend will not continue, unless the president has an epiphany or a personality transplant,” said Inslee. “And there's no evidence of that.”
Inslee expressed confidence that Democrats can knock off the Republican incumbent in Illinois and pick up GOP-held open seats in New Mexico and Maine. He thinks Trump’s low approval rating will potentially put South Carolina, Kansas, Tennessee and Oklahoma in play.
The DGA is putting special emphasis on nine states where Barack Obama won in 2012, and the governor has a role in the redistricting process. Whoever wins in these places in the midterms will have a hand in the once-a-decade redrawing of congressional boundaries. That could make it easier for Democrats to win the House.
Today’s special Senate election in Alabama may offer a taste of what’s to come. If a candidate with as much baggage as Roy Moore can win, even in a ruby red state, it may be hard for Democrats to expand the map too much. But if Doug Jones comes out on top, Democrats elsewhere will be emboldened.
Ralph Northam’s victory in Virginia last month gives Inslee confidence that 2018 will be a banner year for Democrats. White college-educated women in the suburbs swung hard in their direction, rank-and-file Democrats were highly motivated and young people turned out for an off-year election. “Democrats are going to crawl out of their sick bed to go vote next year,” Inslee said. “The polling did not pick up this energy.”
Inslee argues that, if Democratic candidates can focus on rolling out policy white papers, Republicans will be stuck twisting themselves into pretzels over Trump in purple states. They can’t alienate the president’s base, but they will need to woo independents who are disillusioned with his performance. He points to Ed Gillespie, the failed GOP nominee in Virginia, as an example of the challenge.
“They can run, but they cannot hide from him,” said Inslee. “The Virginia race demonstrated that they have no escape hatch from this. They’re trying to straddle a barbed wire fence. You can’t do it successfully.”
There are a handful of Republicans, however, who look insulated from anti-Trump backlash at this point. Polls show that the GOP governors in the blue states of Massachusetts, Maryland and Vermont are among the most popular chief executives in the country. They’ve successfully threaded the needle so far.
Inslee noted that Robert Ehrlich was a very popular Republican governor of Maryland going into 2006 — he was even viewed more favorably than unfavorably on Election Day — but he still lost to Democratic challenger Martin O’Malley that year because George W. Bush was so unpopular.
“All bets are off in this situation,” Inslee said. “There's no lifeboat here for them to get into.”
Inslee’s real frame of reference, though, is more 1994 than 2006. He got elected to the House in 1992 and swept out two years later as part of the blowback to Bill Clinton. (He returned to Congress in 1998 and stayed until he ran for governor in 2012.) This ’94 defeat was the defining moment of his political career, and he talks about it all the time.
“I'm not an expert in very many things. I used to know how to shoot a jump shot in the old days. But I am an expert in wave elections because I went through one in 1994,” Inslee told me. “What I learned in 1994 is: You cannot escape being shackled to a president who is being rejected by the American people in double digits. You just cannot escape it. There is no way. Lord, I tried different approaches. I know exactly what these Republicans are going through.”
In Washington state, the congressional delegation went from having eight Democrats and one Republican to seven Republicans and two Democrats. One of the losers was Speaker of the House Tom Foley.
“These are referendums on the president, and you cannot escape that,” Inslee said. “You cannot minimize it. You cannot put on a different hat or a happy face. You are just tied to that smell. And that's what they're stuck with. There's no soap that can erase it. … The guy [voters] wanted to drain the swamp fed the alligators instead.”
Asked to reconcile this with the Democratic civil war that’s broken out since Obama left office, Inslee replied: “I do not believe it is something to lose two minutes of sleep over, and Virginia proves that.”
Indeed, there was lots of bed-wetting on the left and second-guessing from liberal interest groups in the run-up to the election. It looked stupid when Northam won by nine points. The lieutenant governor also faced a credible challenger from his left in Tom Perriello, but the party’s rank-and-file mostly rallied behind him after the June primary.
“The unifying force of Donald Trump cannot be overstated here,” Inslee said. “You can have the biggest ideological debate in the Democratic Party, and it will be forgotten in a nanosecond.”
Displaying a characteristically corny-but-charming sense of humor, Inslee said at one point: “The only person who is going to do well in 2018 with an ‘R’ behind their name is Jay R. Inslee.”
If 2018 goes as well as Inslee predicts it will, the 66-year-old could be well positioned to seek the Democratic nomination in 2020. He would run as an accomplished progressive governor from a state with a robust economy, who is not tainted by the dysfunction in the other Washington and who can raise lots of money. It’s plausible that he could emerge as a consensus figure who is acceptable to dueling factions of the Democratic coalition in a nominating contest which has no clear front-runner and is sure to be unpredictable.
On the same night Northam prevailed in Virginia, Democrats won a special election to take control of the Washington state Senate. Inslee hopes to capitalize on this during a short legislative session that starts in January. His priorities back home include reducing carbon pollution by incentivizing the creation of new clean energy jobs, investing more in education and expanding voting rights.
Asked about running for president, Inslee smiled. “I've got two great jobs right now,” he said, referring to being governor and DGA chair. “I do believe this is a generational opportunity for the Democrats to advance progressive policies by winning governor’s races. I think it's a 50-year opportunity, or a lifetime opportunity, given the combination of circumstances here. I know you've heard this before, but it's honest: I'm focused on the job that I’ve got.” (This, of course, is exactly the answer that someone planning to run always gives …)
Inslee talked with me for close to an hour-and-a-half — until his wife of 45 years, Trudi, came to the hotel restaurant to tell him that they needed to get going for their son's rehearsal dinner.
WHILE YOU WERE SLEEPING:
-- The terror suspect who attempted to detonate a pipe bomb at a New York City subway station told authorities he was inspired by the Islamic State. Mark Berman, Lindsey Bever, Amy B Wang and Devlin Barrett report: “Authorities identified the suspect as Akayed Ullah, an immigrant from Bangladesh who came to the United States in 2011. … The attack . . . left the suspect wounded but otherwise caused only minor injuries to three commuters . . . [Police said] the pipe bomb, affixed to Ullah’s clothes with Velcro and zip ties, detonated about 7:20 a.m. as he walked in an underground passageway from the subway station at 42nd Street and Eighth Avenue to a nearby station at Seventh Avenue … The attack brought Monday’s morning commute in crowded Times Square to a standstill as a massive police response locked down the area while authorities searched for other bombs.”
GET SMART FAST:
- A federal judge denied Trump’s request to delay an order requiring the military begin accepting transgender recruits starting Jan. 1, saying the administration’s argument for more time seemed to be based on “vague claims.” (Spencer S. Hsu and Ann E. Marimow)
- Trump signed a space policy directive, calling for “returning American astronauts to the moon for the first time since 1972” and “an eventual mission to Mars.” But the pronouncement made Trump the third consecutive Republican president to envision a moon mission, which has been hampered by a lack of funding and direction. (Christian Davenport)
The administration reportedly left out the number of American troops fighting in Afghanistan, Iraq and Syria in its accounting to Congress. A previous report showed the number of troops fighting in those countries. (Yahoo News)
- Rohingya Muslim women were “methodically raped” by Myanmar’s armed forces before being driven out of their villages and into neighboring Bangladesh, according to a startling AP report, based on interviews with 29 women across multiple refugee camps, who ranged in age from 13 to 35. They recounted “hauntingly similar” acts carried out en masse by Myanmar’s military. (AP)
San Francisco Mayor Ed Lee died at 65. His office confirmed the news early this morning but did not provide a cause of death. The city’s Board of Supervisors president, London Breed, became acting mayor, effective immediately. (San Francisco Chronicle)
- Five months into her role as Trump’s CDC director, Brenda Fitzgerald faces mounting questions about financial conflicts of interest relating to cancer and opioids, which critics say hinder her ability to fully perform her job. “I am concerned that you cannot perform the role of CDC director while being largely recused from … two of the most pervasive and urgent health challenges we face as a country,” Sen. Patty Murray (D-Wash.) wrote in a letter. (Lena H. Sun and Alice Crites)
- The city of Charlottesville denied a request from white nationalist Jason Kessler to hold a rally on the first anniversary of this summer’s protests. Charlottesville’s city manager wrote in response to the request that it “cannot be accommodated with the area applied for, or within a reasonable allocation of city funds and/or police resources.” (Joe Heim)
- The U.S. ambassador to the United Kingdom said he expects Trump to visit Britain in the new year. Ambassador Woody Johnson added that Trump’s recent fight with Prime Minister Theresa May over inflammatory anti-Muslim videos he shared was “probably misinterpreted.” (BBC)
- Emmanuel Macron has awarded 13 U.S. scientists grants to move to France, as part of a “Make Our Planet Great Again” competition launched in defiance of Trump. Recipients include professors and researchers from top-tier institutions, including Stanford, Cornell and Columbia, who will be paid to study in the country for up to five years. (Steven Mufson)
- An Auschwitz survivor said North Korea’s political prisons “are as terrible, or even worse” than Nazi concentration camps during the Holocaust after hearing from North Korean prisoners and guards. Thomas Buergenthal is part of an inquiry by the International Bar Association, which concluded that Kim Jong Un should be tried for 10 of 11 internationally recognized war crimes in a report to be issued today. (Anna Fifield)
- Rep. Carlos Curbelo (R-Fla.) accused the congressional Problem Solvers Caucus leadership of withholding details of a compromise over “dreamers.” Curbelo said that leaders of the bipartisan caucus “have not presented the compromise to the entire caucus to try to get the votes necessary to proceed. Time is running out.” (Ed O’Keefe)
- Sean Spicer will release his memoir in the summer of 2018. Appearing on Sean Hannity’s show Monday night, the former White House press secretary said the purpose of his book will be to “set the record straight” about what he claims really happened during the 2016 campaign and the first six months of Trump’s presidency. (CNN)
Merriam-Webster named “feminism” its word of the year. Searches for the word spiked after the January Women’s March as well as after the releases of “The Handmaid’s Tale” and “Wonder Woman.”
- A famous daredevil died while attempting to do pullups from a skyscraper in China. The 26-year-old, whose heart-stopping adventures earned him the nickname “Chinese Superman,” was trying to win $15,000 in prize money when he fell to his death. (Amy B Wang)
IT'S ELECTION DAY IN ALABAMA:
-- Alabama’s Senate race closed with a wave of out-of-state surrogates on Monday, with former White House chief strategist Steve Bannon, Rep. Louie Gohmert (R-Tex.) and former sheriff David Clarke appearing at Roy Moore’s final campaign rally to stump on behalf of the Republican candidate. “They tried to destroy Donald Trump, and they’re trying to destroy Roy Moore,” Bannon said. “There’s no bottom for how low they’ll go.”
-- Kayla Moore, the GOP candidate's wife, said at her husband's rally last night: “Fake news will tell you we don’t care for Jews. … I just want to set the record straight while they’re here. One of our attorneys is a Jew!”
Kayla Moore, wife of Alabama Senate candidate Roy Moore, accuses media of painting couple as anti-Semitic. pic.twitter.com/Vcczj6pNPv— NBC News (@NBCNews) December 12, 2017
-- Bill Staehle, who served in Vietnam with Moore, also spoke at the rally and cited an accidental trip to a Vietnamese brothel as evidence of Moore’s sterling character. HuffPost’s Ed Mazza reports: “Staehle said he and Moore went to what they were told would be a ‘private club’ to join a fellow soldier who was celebrating the end of his tour of duty. The club, he said, turned out to be a brothel. ‘There were certainly pretty girls. And they were girls, and they were young. Some were probably very young, I don’t know,’ Staehle said. Moore, he said, left immediately. ‘We shouldn’t be here. I’m leaving,’ he recalled Moore saying. He and Moore left, while the other soldier remained. ‘That was Roy,’ he said. ‘Honorable. Disciplined. Morally straight and highly principled.’”
-- Barack Obama and Joe Biden recorded robo-calls on behalf of Doug Jones.
-- Former NBA player and Alabama native Charles Barkley told CNN’s Don Lemon that journalists were in Alabama to witness “a train wreck.” “They can't believe that these people are going to try to elect Roy Moore. They're here to see a train wreck,” Barkley said. “I don't think they really care who's a senator in Alabama. All these news people are here because they want to see, are these people that stupid to vote for Roy Moore?”
-- “The stakes were high for both parties, as the outcome is likely to set the stage for the 2018 midterm elections,” Sean Sullivan, David Weigel and Michael Scherer report. “A win in the Deep South for Democrats, the first in a Senate race in Alabama since 1992, would be a rebuke to Trump and Bannon, who have promoted Moore over the objections of establishment Republicans. The victory would also lend credibility to Democratic efforts to regain control of the Senate next year. ‘The Democratic path to a Senate majority in 2018 involves a miracle somewhere,’ said Kyle Kondik, a political analyst at [U-Va.]. ‘And we may be on the cusp of a Democratic miracle in Alabama.’ A win for Moore, in contrast, would weaken the hand of mainstream Republicans, who have struggled to broaden the party’s appeal heading into the midterms.”
-- Alabama Secretary of State John Merrill forecasts that 25 percent of eligible voters will cast a ballot.
-- Three polls released Monday showed how hard it is to predict the contours of the electorate: An automated poll from Emerson College showed Moore with a nine-point advantage, while a Monmouth University survey showed the race about even. But Fox News gave Jones a significant 10-point lead among likely voters (50 percent to 40 percent).
The Fox poll, which had Jones up eight points last month, is probably the most credible of the three surveys. It was conducted with live callers, cellphones and rigorous methodology. Some nuggets:
- Support for Moore among white evangelical Christians is down eight points since last month. He still leads among whites by 20 points (55-35) and whites without a college degree by 33 points (61-28).
- Alabamians now believe by a six-point margin that the allegations against Moore are true, compared to an even divide last month.
- More Democrats (50 percent) than Republicans (45 percent) are “extremely” interested in the election.
Jones holds a 76-point advantage among nonwhite voters, a 31-point lead among voters under 45, and a 20-point lead among women in the state.
“It’s clear Jones is positioned to pull off the upset because his supporters are unified and energized, and Moore’s are conflicted and diffident,” said Fox News pollster Daron Shaw. “But Jones is depending on many voters who show up only occasionally to cast their ballots. If their rate of follow-through drops from what we expect, the race could turn.”
-- Bloomberg’s Joshua Green explores how Bannon rescued Moore’s campaign “against all odds”: “Through his staff at Breitbart News, his talk radio show, and his allies in politics and media … Bannon has worked harder than perhaps anyone else to sow doubt about the accusations against Moore and to push the claim that his accusers are lying. In doing so, he’s illustrated the growing power of conservative media to shape the perceptions of Republican voters … Bannon was most alarmed by (Sean) Hannity’s ultimatum to Moore and moved to intervene[:] Along with Breitbart’s Washington editor, Matthew Boyle, he besieged the Fox News host with phone calls and texts. Bannon … asked the Fox host not to call on Moore to withdraw and instead to let Alabama voters decide … One of the people said Hannity was skeptical, but willing to listen. The person said Hannity texted Boyle, ‘You pull this off it’s a f--- miracle.’”
-- A Republican national committeewoman from Nebraska, Joyce Simmons, resigned in protest of the RNC's decision to go all-in for someone accused of sexually pursuing teenage girls. Politico’s Alex Isenstadt reports: “'I strongly disagree with the recent RNC financial support directed to the Alabama Republican Party for use in the Roy Moore race. There is much I could say about this situation, but I will defer to this weekend's comments by Senator Shelby,' [she] wrote in an email to fellow party officials. 'I will miss so many of you that I knew well; and wish I could have continued my service to the national Republican Party that I used to know well.'”
-- A congresswoman is worried that Moore could pose a danger to teenage Senate pages if he's elected. Eli Rosenberg reports: “The unusual warning about a potential incoming senator was revealed Monday in a letter sent Friday by Rep. Gwen Moore (D-Wis.) to the administrative body that runs the Senate, the office of the Sergeant at Arms and Doorkeeper, on the eve of Alabama’s special election. … ‘I write you today to share my urgent concern regarding the threat to the safety of the young men and women working in the United States Senate Page Program if Roy Moore becomes the U.S. Senator,’ [Moore] wrote. ‘I would like to know what preventative steps are being undertaken to safeguard Senate Pages from predatory conduct of U.S. Senators and Senate staff.’”
-- Republican leadership has also dodged the question of whether Moore would be given a seat on any Senate committee if he wins today. CNN’s Manu Raju and Ted Barrett report: “Mitch McConnell would not say if the GOP conference would welcome him into its weekly policy lunches or give him committee assignments. ‘That's a good conversation for sometime after tomorrow,’ McConnell said in the Capitol. Other top Republicans also punted when asked whether Moore would be named to any committee — a remarkably unusual move given that most senators tend to serve on four to five panels each. ‘None of that has been discussed or decided,’ said Senate Majority Whip John Cornyn of Texas.”
-- Condoleezza Rice, who was born in Alabama, released a statement appearing to rebuke Moore but stopped short of naming him. “These critical times require us to come together to reject bigotry, sexism, and intolerance,” the former secretary of state wrote, before adding that voters should insist on leaders who “are dignified, decent, and respectful of the values we hold dear.”
THERE’S A BEAR IN THE WOODS:
-- Years before Fusion GPS produced the infamous Trump dossier, the small firm used a range of investigative reporting techniques and media connections to advance the interests of an “eclectic” range of clients nationwide. Jack Gillum and Shawn Boburg report: “Fusion GPS bills itself as a corporate research firm, but in many ways it operates with the secrecy of a spy agency … [and has] played an unseen role in stories that dominated headlines in recent years. In the years before it produced the dossier … Fusion worked to blunt aggressive reporting on the medical-device company Theranos, which was later found to have problems with its novel blood-testing technology. It was also hired to ward off scrutiny of the nutritional supplement company Herbalife … In another case, the firm sought to expose what it called ‘slimy dealings’ by a competitor of a San Francisco museum proposed by filmmaker and ‘Star Wars’ director George Lucas. Fusion's other past research targets, [included] tech giants Google and Amazon; 2012 presidential candidates Mitt Romney and Barack Obama; and Republican Sens. Ted Cruz of Texas and Bob Corker of Tennessee.”
-- Philip Rucker, Josh Dawsey and Rosalind S. Helderman just posted their inside look at Trump’s legal team, for which they spoke to more than two dozen White House insiders and people connected to the Russia probe: “Many in the Washington legal community chide them as being indiscreet, error-prone and outmatched. They say public blunders — such as [John] Dowd and [Ty] Cobb casually chatting about their legal strategy on the patio of a downtown Washington steakhouse in September within earshot of a reporter — suggest a lack of discipline. Critics also question why, seven months into Mueller’s investigation of Russian interference in the 2016 election, they have not assembled a battalion of lawyers as former president Bill Clinton had when he was being investigated by independent counsel Kenneth W. Starr.
“And some Trump loyalists, spoiling for a fight, say the president’s lawyers should be combative rather than cooperative with Mueller. … The chorus of criticism may be growing louder, but Trump is not singing along. By most accounts, the president is satisfied with his representation — and talks to Cobb several times a day — though advisers say he has occasionally discussed bringing on new lawyers.”
-- An associate of Michael Flynn denied the former national security adviser discussed a plan to build nuclear power plants in the Middle East on Inauguration Day. Michael Kranish and Tom Hamburger report: “Thomas B. Cochran, senior scientist at ACU Strategic Partners, described the charges by a congressional witness as ‘patently false and unfounded’ in a letter sent Friday to Rep. Elijah E. Cummings (Md.), the ranking Democrat on the House Committee on Oversight and Government Affairs. Last week, Cummings released the account of the witness, who said that Alex Copson, ACU’s managing director, claimed he received a text message from Flynn during President Trump’s inaugural address telling him that the nuclear plan was ‘good to go.’”
-- A federal judge decided against punishing Paul Manafort for helping to write an op-ed for a Ukrainian newspaper. Spencer S. Hsu reports: “But the judge warned she would likely consider any similar actions in the future as a violation of the existing gag order barring comments outside court as Manafort faces trial on criminal fraud charges. ‘Mr. Manafort, that order applies to you, and not just your lawyer,’ U.S. District Judge Amy Berman Jackson said at an hour-long hearing in Washington. ‘I’m inclined to view such conduct in the future to be an effort to circumvent and evade . . . my order, as clarified this morning.’”
-- A Kremlin spokesman told reporters Putin receives reports on Trump’s tweets. "Moscow considers all statements made on his [Trump’s] official Twitter account to be official, so reports are presented to President Putin about them, as well as about official statements that politicians make in other countries," said spokesman Dmitry Peskov. He also pointed out Putin doesn’t have a Twitter account. (Tass)
-- Three women who during the 2016 campaign accused Trump of sexual misconduct reasserted their claims — appearing on Megyn Kelly’s NBC show and in a subsequent news conference in Manhattan, where they called on Congress to investigate the allegations. Ashley Parker, Mark Berman and Frances Stead Sellers report: “[Their renewed push comes as some] Trump aides, advisers and outside confidants are privately grappling with how to navigate the charged national environment over sexual misconduct, which may not pass anytime soon, and an increasingly aggressive Democratic Party. Some outside Republicans close to the president said they are increasingly uneasy about [the president's] ability to withstand a revived spotlight on his behavior toward women amid the dramatic attitude shift happening nationwide in response to accusations of sexual misconduct against men from Hollywood to Capitol Hill. A number of Trump associates are also wary of the potential political costs if the president goes on a sustained attack against his accusers …”
The White House dismissed the allegations in a statement Monday morning: “’These false claims, totally disputed in most cases by eyewitness accounts, were addressed at length during last year’s campaign, and the American people voiced their judgment by delivering a decisive victory,’ [the statement said]. 'The timing and absurdity of these false claims speaks volumes, and the publicity tour that has begun only further confirms the political motives behind them.’ [And] in a contentious media briefing — in which [Sarah Huckabee Sanders] was asked if she had ever been sexually harassed and if she could empathize with victims of harassment — Sanders said, ‘The president has addressed these accusations directly and denied all of these accusations.’”
In a tweet this morning, Trump sought to connect what he says is a lack of factual basis for collusion allegations in the Russia investigation with the accounts of his accusers:
Despite thousands of hours wasted and many millions of dollars spent, the Democrats have been unable to show any collusion with Russia - so now they are moving on to the false accusations and fabricated stories of women who I don’t know and/or have never met. FAKE NEWS!— Donald J. Trump (@realDonaldTrump) December 12, 2017
-- Trump was reportedly infuriated after U.N. Ambassador Nikki Haley said in an interview that the president’s accusers “should be heard.” (Haley's full comments were a bit more ambiguous: “They should be heard, and they should be dealt with,” [Haley said] . . . “And I think we heard from them before the election. And I think any woman who has felt violated or felt mistreated in any way, they have every right to speak up.”) (AP)
-- But, aside from Haley, conservative women have largely avoided criticizing Trump on the subject. Vanessa Williams reports: “After female Senate Democrats prompted the resignation of Sen. Al Franken (D-Minn.) last week, … Republican women mostly have responded with shrugs or silence to accusations against men in their party. … Party loyalty plays a big role in why more Republican women have not demanded that GOP men accused of sexual harassment be held accountable. But a fundamental disagreement about the relevance of sexual harassment as a symptom of gender inequality is also a factor. Ronnee Schreiber, chair of the political science department at San Diego State University, said many conservative women think the current conversation about sexual harassment has been ‘overblown’ by feminists on the left.”
-- Sen. Kirsten Gillibrand (D-N.Y.) joined the calls from Democratic Sens. Cory Booker (N.J.) and Jeff Merkley (Ore.) demanding Trump’s resignation. “President Trump has committed assault, according to these women, and those are very credible allegations of misconduct and criminal activity, and he should be fully investigated and he should resign,” Gillibrand said. (CNN)
Trump went after Gillibrand in a separate tweet this morning:
Lightweight Senator Kirsten Gillibrand, a total flunky for Chuck Schumer and someone who would come to my office “begging” for campaign contributions not so long ago (and would do anything for them), is now in the ring fighting against Trump. Very disloyal to Bill & Crooked-USED!— Donald J. Trump (@realDonaldTrump) December 12, 2017
-- Sen. Ron Wyden (D-Ore.) also voiced support for both Trump's resignation and congressional investigations into the allegations against Trump:
These women are right. If @realDonaldTrump won't resign, Congress must investigate allegations by many, many women that he sexually assaulted and harassed them. No one is above the law. https://t.co/ySP9DVUgLP— Ron Wyden (@RonWyden) December 11, 2017
MEN BEHAVING BADLY:
-- The New York Times’s Sheryl Gay Stolberg explains how the congressional office of Rep. Blake Farenthold (R-Tex.) became known for a culture of sexual harassment: “Throughout the Capitol, House aides have described office cultures where sexually explicit conversations are routine, pickup lines are part of daily life, hiring can be based on looks, tolerance is expected and intolerance of such behavior is career-ending. In Mr. Farenthold’s case, legal documents and interviews with former aides suggest an atmosphere in which the congressman set the tone for off-color jokes and inappropriate banter, which flourished among his underlings. Former employees also said that Mr. Farenthold had an explosive temper and often bullied his aides, prompting a high turnover.”
-- The New Yorker fired its leading Washington correspondent, Ryan Lizza, following what the magazine called “improper sexual conduct.” The allegation was vigorously disputed by Lizza, who said in a statement that his termination was a “terrible mistake.” Paul Farhi reports: “In a statement issued Monday afternoon, a New Yorker spokeswoman said: ‘The New Yorker recently learned that Ryan Lizza engaged in what we believe was improper sexual conduct. We have reviewed the matter and, as a result, have severed ties with Lizza. Due to a request for privacy, we are not commenting further.’ Lizza disputed the magazine’s determination, saying in a statement, ‘I am dismayed that the New Yorker has decided to characterize a respectful relationship with a woman I dated as somehow inappropriate. The New Yorker was unable to cite any company policy that was violated.’ Lizza was apparently the subject of a single complaint about nonconsensual behavior, though the behavior in question hasn’t been disclosed.”
-- Celebrity chef Mario Batali parted ways with his restaurant empire after four women accused him of inappropriate touching. Eater’s Irene Plagianos and Kitty Greenwald report: “About 10 years ago, at the after-party for a wine auction in New Orleans, a woman in her 20s walked up to [Batali] to introduce herself. … Minutes into their conversation, she recalls, he told her, ‘Come work for me, I’ll pay you double what you’re making.’ Moments later, someone bumped her glass, spilling wine all over her chest and down her scooped-neck shirt. She alleges that Batali began rubbing her breasts with his bare hands while saying something like, ‘Let me help you with that,’ as he groped her chest. … [That woman] is one of four women who allege that Batali touched them inappropriately in a pattern of behavior that appears to span at least two decades. Three of the women worked for Batali in some capacity during their careers.”
-- A former employee of the NFL’s TV network has filed an amended court complaint accusing a former executive producer and ex-players of groping her. Bloomberg’s Jordyn Holman and Scott Soshnick report: “The allegations against the retired players and Eric Weinberger, who’s now president of sports commentator Bill Simmons’s media group, are part of a lawsuit against NFL Enterprises in Los Angeles Superior Court. … [Jami] Cantor, a wardrobe stylist at the NFL Network, said Weinberger sent ‘several nude pictures of himself and sexually explicit texts’ and told her she was ‘put on earth to pleasure me.’ He also pressed his crotch against Cantor’s shoulder and asked her to touch it, according to the complaint. She said she was also sexually harassed by on-air talent.” The network suspended three members of its on-air team in response to the allegations.
SOCIAL MEDIA SPEED READ:
Trump called out the New York Times, CNN and MSNBC for supposedly faulty reporting:
Another false story, this time in the Failing @nytimes, that I watch 4-8 hours of television a day - Wrong! Also, I seldom, if ever, watch CNN or MSNBC, both of which I consider Fake News. I never watch Don Lemon, who I once called the “dumbest man on television!” Bad Reporting.— Donald J. Trump (@realDonaldTrump) December 11, 2017
"The Daily Show” responded to Trump's tweet:
We're all ok in NYC thanks for asking! https://t.co/ERFd4fabAM— The Daily Show (@TheDailyShow) December 11, 2017
From a HuffPost reporter:
Donald Trump led a years-long misinformation campaign to say the country’s first black president was secretly not a U.S. citizen but sure, yeah, lecture us all about making mistakes that are then corrected.— Elise Foley (@elisefoley) December 11, 2017
A New York Times reporter laid out how a Senate race in consistently red Alabama became such a nail-biter. (The whole thread is worth reading.):
You’re President-elect Trump. You have to choose an attorney general. Do you:— Alex Burns (@alexburnsNYT) December 12, 2017
(1) Reward Jeff Sessions for loyalty, knowing it will prompt a potentially messy special election
(2) Pick one of many non-senators available to the job, at the risk of disappointing your (then-)friend
A Slate correspondent reflected on Kayla Moore's quote, "One of our attorneys is a Jew":
i’m just now watching the video and it is so much worse than the quote https://t.co/brwXvwejA1— Jamelle Bouie (@jbouie) December 12, 2017
From a writer for HuffPost:
i mean yes the jew thing is wild but also, like, why did she need notes pic.twitter.com/Uw11OaTmsU— Ashley Feinberg (@ashleyfeinberg) December 12, 2017
From Joe Biden's former chief of staff:
Let's say you are teaching a class about anti-semitism, and you don't know how to show your students what anti-semitism looks like in today's America. Kayla Moore has solved your problem. https://t.co/SoZ6Q2PkHM— Ronald Klain (@RonaldKlain) December 12, 2017
A New York Times columnist also hit back against Moore for the brothel story shared at his rally:
And also that this dude and Moore left a third friend at a brothel all night with Vietnamese "child prostitutes" in a war-torn country (so... rape victims) and that's kind of a funny story about how great Roy Moore is.— Jill Filipovic (@JillFilipovic) December 12, 2017
Radio host Hugh Hewitt shared this quote from GOP strategist Steve Schmidt:
"I say this as the vice president of the largest PR firm in the world: There isn't enough money in the world to repair the brand of Alabama if it elects Roy Moore." @SteveSchmidtSES Per usual, succinctly and accurately put.— Hugh Hewitt (@hughhewitt) December 11, 2017
From an NBC News reporter:
In Midland City, Alabama, Steve Bannon goes after @JoeNBC, saying he got into better schools than Joe could have—Georgetown and Harvard. This might be the wrong place for that attack: Joe went to the University of Alabama.— Jonathan Allen (@jonallendc) December 12, 2017
The Treasury Department finally released its "analysis" on the tax plan, per a Washington Post reporter:
For months, Treasury Sec. Mnuchin has been promising a full analysis of the tax bill's economic effects.— Heather Long (@byHeatherLong) December 11, 2017
Today Treasury released a 1-page document that attributes ~half the higher growth to regulatory reform, welfare reform & infrastructure https://t.co/XC2XOV4XIF pic.twitter.com/1lUUm8LMlo
Joe Biden offered his thoughts to those affected by the wildfires in California:
The people of California are on my mind as they suffer through these devastating wildfires. Amidst the loss, I’m inspired by the bravery & commitment of our firefighters. Day after day going back into the flames, risking their lives to save others. Incredible bravery.— Joe Biden (@JoeBiden) December 11, 2017
Kellyanne Conway applauded the boy who spoke out against bullying in a viral video:
Keaton Jones is a face and a voice for many. We need to lift each other up, and lead by example for children, who learn what they live. If your heart breaks watching and hearing this boy's pain, think twice before causing or adding to another's. Thank you, Keaton & Mom https://t.co/TK3iuOQtul— Kellyanne Conway (@KellyannePolls) December 11, 2017
From a HuffPost reporter:
Your boss literally just tweeted that a CNN anchor is "the dumbest man on television." https://t.co/CPQckJlr4E— Jennifer Bendery (@jbendery) December 11, 2017
Sen. Orrin Hatch (R-Utah) was able to share his Christmas wish list with Santa Claus:
And former congressman John Dingell (D-Mich.) commented on Trump's stated goal to send American astronauts to Mars:
I fully support @realDonaldTrump’s interest in space travel to Mars, and I wish him the absolute best in his travels.— John Dingell (@JohnDingell) December 11, 2017
GOOD READS FROM ELSEWHERE:
-- Politico Magazine, “David Petraeus Would Still Work for Trump, Under ‘Certain Conditions,’” by Edward-Isaac Dovere: “Like a soldier walking through a minefield, Petraeus stepped gingerly through his answers. Though he repeated that he’s ruled out ever running for office, Petraeus confirmed he has spoken with the Trump administration about being secretary of state and national security adviser and says he’d still be interested about going in, ‘but it would have to be a specific set of circumstances or be frankly, certain conditions.’ He wouldn’t say what those were, but noted they were part of the conversation he had with Trump a year ago when Rex Tillerson got offered Foggy Bottom instead.”
-- The New York Times, “A Campaign Memoir That Shows Trump, at Least Partly, as He Is,” by Maggie Haberman: “Over the years, his advisers and aides have worked to maintain the image Mr. Trump has spent a lifetime cultivating, a particular challenge during a presidential race, when candidates’ flaws are exposed. But few candidates try to keep such an iron grip on their image as Mr. Trump did in 2016, driving his aides to do battle with reporters over seemingly minor details. So it is striking that ‘Let Trump Be Trump,’ a new book by two former campaign aides, paints a portrait of Mr. Trump that shows him as he is — at least partly — as opposed to how he would like to be seen.”
-- The New Yorker, “The Worst Part of Donald Trump’s Visit to the Civil-Rights Museum,” by Jelani Cobb: “[T]he circumstances under which that museum opened remind us, again, that progress is neither inevitable nor necessarily permanent.”
-- The New York Times, “A Nasty, Nafta-Related Surprise: Mexico’s Soaring Obesity,” by Andrew Jacobs and Matt Richtel: “The family’s experience in food service began in the 1960s, when Mr. Ruiz’s grandmother sold tamales and home-cooked food made with produce from a nearby farm; those same ingredients sustained her boys with vegetable stews, beans, tortillas and eggs. Meat was a luxury. Since then, the Ruizes have become both consumers and participants in an extraordinary transformation of the country’s food system, one that has saddled them and millions of other Mexicans with diet-related illnesses. It is a seismic shift that some nutritionists say has an underappreciated cause: free trade.”
HOT ON THE LEFT
“A 12 Diet Cokes-a-day habit like Trump's is worth changing,” from CNN: “Trump downs a dozen Diet Cokes each day, The New York Times reported this weekend. … So, what happens to those who drink a dozen cans daily of the caramel-colored elixir, which contains a blend of the sweetener aspartame and artificial and natural flavors, among other ingredients? … Looking at long-term studies in humans, [Susan Swithers, a professor of psychological sciences at Purdue University College of Health and Human Sciences,] noted, the results indicate that people who report drinking artificially sweetened beverages end up at higher risk than non-diet soda drinkers for lots of negative outcomes, including type 2 diabetes, hypertension and stroke, as well as dementia.”
HOT ON THE RIGHT
“A former CIA head’s worthwhile realization about criticizing Trump,” from Aaron Blake: “The former acting head of the CIA, Michael Morell, decided last year that it was time to get political. Concerned about the possibility that Donald Trump would become commander in chief, Morell wrote an August 2016 New York Times op-ed endorsing Hillary Clinton and calling Trump a ‘threat to our national security.’ It sounds like he regrets it — at least somewhat. … [I]n Morell's telling, the decisions by top former intelligence officials like himself, Hayden and Brennan to all speak out against Trump — combined with leaks that cast Trump in a dim light — created a kind of us-vs.-them situation, which may have led Trump to distrust the intelligence community.”
Trump will sign the 2018 National Defense Authorization Act in the afternoon and then meet with Deputy Secretary of State John Sullivan and U.S. Ambassador to Japan William Hagerty.
Pence will join Trump’s bill signing before traveling to Capitol Hill to give a speech to the House Values Action Team and meet with Senate Republicans.
QUOTE OF THE DAY:
Alabama historian Wayne Flynt shared this quote from a letter that “To Kill a Mockingbird” novelist Harper Lee wrote him in 2005: “It looks like to hell if we don't get some things changed . . . I dread the advent of Roy Moore's administration but its [sic] coming sure as doomsday. What is wrong with us? Are you old enough to remember when people were less ignorant? I am."
NEWS YOU CAN USE IF YOU LIVE IN D.C.:
-- D.C. could see an afternoon shower today. The Capital Weather Gang forecasts: “A big cold front swings through midday with a chance for a shower; otherwise, expect mostly cloudy skies, and highs in the upper 40s to low 50s.”
-- The Capitals lost to the Islanders 3-1. (Isabelle Khurshudyan)
-- Controversial preacher E.W. Jackson entered the Republican primary for next year’s Senate race in Virginia. Jenna Portnoy reports: “Out of the gate, Jackson attempted to out-insult [his competitor,] the provocative [Corey] Stewart, saying he ‘has had some dealings’ with the Muslim Brotherhood, a transnational Islamic group, and ‘has never seen a tax increase . . . he didn’t like.’ Jackson did not elaborate but may have been referring to decisions earlier this year by the Prince William Board of County Supervisors, which Stewart chairs, to issue a permit for the construction of a mosque in Nokesville and to raise property taxes.”
-- Maryland’s legislature will begin tracking sexual harassment complaints against lawmakers. Fenit Nirappil and Ovetta Wiggins report: “The General Assembly plans to update its sexual harassment policy to require the legislature’s human resources director to keep track of the number and type of complaints and how they were resolved. Lawmakers would be briefed on this information every year — but would not be given the identities of the alleged harassers.”
-- A woman was sexually assaulted in Southeast D.C. by a man she thought worked for a ride-sharing service. (Peter Hermann)
VIDEOS OF THE DAY:
Jimmy Kimmel returned to his show after taking time off for his son Billy's second heart surgery — and brought Billy along with him:
One Alabama man explained why he opposes Roy Moore's views on homosexuality:
Father, who says he's a local peanut farmer in Wicksburg, outside Roy Moore rally talks about losing his gay daughter at age of 23 to suicide. "I was anti-gay myself. I said bad things to my daughter, which I regret." pic.twitter.com/J0oOU0EJI2— Vaughn Hillyard (@VaughnHillyard) December 11, 2017
Trump called for “reclaiming America's proud destiny in space” at the signing ceremony for his space policy directive:
A woman threatened to “kill everyone on [her] plane” after flight attendants forced her to put out a cigarette:
Another passenger claimed she was kicked off her flight after breast-feeding her son:
And this 6-year-old made $11 million this year reviewing toys on YouTube: